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Jury selection set to begin before Earth Day in Refugio oil spill trial

Jury selection phase of Refugio oil spill trial begins before Earth Day

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The criminal trial against Plains All American Pipeline over the Refugio oil spill begins with jury selection in Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Organizers of the weekend Earth Day Festival in Santa Barbara's Alameda Park said the timing of the trail seems like a nice coincidence.

"Earth Day is this weekend so it makes a lot of sense, we are so passionate about this topic," said Elizabeth Davidson.

Davidson recalls friends working to clean up the spill before professional clean up crews hired by Plains All American Pipeline went to work.

She said the spill served as a reminder of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara that led to Earth Day and the environmental movement.

Next month marks the third anniversary of the Refugio spill.

It began on May 19, 2015 and by the time it was stopped more than 142,000 gallons of oil had spilled from a corroded pipeline into the ocean off the Gaviota Coast.

A former Bacara resort employee said he remembers people canceling their reservations.

James Zurlinden who now works as a sous-chef at Convivo restaurant said many tourists assumed the oil spill was in the city of Santa Barbara rather than the county.  

Prosecutors from the county and state filed charges against the Texas-based oil company after a Grand Jury indictment.

Prosecutors from the county and state are handling the case that involve Federal waters, injured marine life and the corrosion of Line 901.

Plains has a policy not to comment on pending litigation.



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